Summer sailing lessons give kids a chance to experience first-hand the ocean that surrounds Nova Scotia, from day camps to seven-night odysseys.
Phoebe Owen is the enrolment coordinator at the Nova Scotia Sea School, where students aged 14 to 18 can go on five- or seven-day overnight, island-hoping expeditions. No experience is required and the Halifax-based school provides everything, except warm clothes.
Kids who have sailed before can tackle new challenges while landlubbers come to grips with boating basics along the south shore.
Owen says kids learn hard skills such as how to sail, how to navigate with a map and compass and how to read the weather, but they can also work on soft skills such as teamwork and leadership.
“You don’t need sailing experience, but you do need a sense of adventure and a willingness to spend some time outdoors,” she says.
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The traditionally rigged, 30-foot boats have up to 13 people on board, including two instructors and an instructor-in-training. The kids sleep on deck and there is no engine for when the wind fails, only eight sturdy oars.
After the Nova Scotia-based sailing school Concordia sank off the coast of Brazil in February, some parents and kids might have concerns, but Owens says Sea School’s vessels don’t stray far from shore and are fully equipped with safety equipment.
Kathy Edwards, a sailing instructor with the Shearwater Yacht Club, says that like the kids she teaches, she loves it.
“There is nothing more satisfying than trimming the sails just right and feeling the power of the boat beneath you and knowing it’s all under your control,” she says. SYC has week-long day camps for kids as young as six or multi-day journeys for teens.
“Younger kids are taught through games and fun and mentored with the older kids. Everyone has a sense of accomplishment,” she says.
Learn more at seaschool.org and syclub.users.pspmembers.com (Shearwater Yacht Club).
Other places offering youth sailing lessons include the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron (rnsys.com) and the Armdale Yacht Club (armdaleyachtclub.ns.ca).